Our formation program is structured to prepare future priests and brothers as Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception. Beginning with the ideal of Saint Augustine and the traditions set forth by our founder Dom Adrien Gréa, and in light of the need and importance of an authentic religious and priestly life in today’s world, we provide the environment where men will learn to develop a love of the Sacred Liturgy, be trained for the parish ministry apostolate, and live in community placing everything in common. The four stages of formation are aspirancy, postulancy, novitiate and scholasticate.
Once the application process has been concluded and approved, the candidate is received into the aspirancy. This is a time for the aspirant to observe our way of life but is not bound to the Congregation. Nevertheless, by living unselfishly in the Community, the aspirant will experience a gradual transition from the life of the world to the religious life. It is a time for him to acquire a deeper knowledge of life in Christ, in which he wishes to involve himself more deeply, as it is lived by the Community. It also allows the Community to get to know the different abilities of the aspirant.
The aspirancy normally lasts about three months and after completion of this period the aspirant is invited into the postulancy.
The postulant will learn about the Congregation: our history, the thought of the Founder, our ideal and spirituality and our apostolic work. Along with the communal and liturgical prayer of the Community the postulant will also be taught the fundamentals of the spiritual life and will be helped to develop the interior life of personal prayer. This is also a time for studies in philosophy, the humanities and liberal arts. These studies serve as a foundation for later work in theology. This is also a period of introduction to our work in our parishes.
The novitiate is the beginning of life in the Institute and a fundamental stage required by the Church for those who sincerely aspire to consecrate themselves in the religious life. The novitiate is an important time for knowing God’s will, for a more personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, and for acquiring a humble and peaceful knowledge of himself as he gives himself fully to God who is calling him.
The novitiate is a period of spiritual maturation and continued discernment. During this period all academic studies are suspended, instead, building upon the foundation laid during the postulancy, the novice will continue to develop his interior life and personal prayer. He will be instructed on the “Books of Life” of the Congregation including the Rule of Saint Augustine, the Constitutions and General Directory. He will attend conferences on the evangelical councils and receives the religious habit.
The novitiate consists of a period of 12 months and takes place at the Dom Gréa House in Santa Paula, California and concludes with religious profession of temporary vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
The newly professed religious, puts into practice the richness of grace that he received through his first profession by continuing his training during the years of the scholasticate. During this period the newly professed religious continues his studies for the priesthood.
For seminary training he may attend Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California.
Those destined to become religious brothers may receive an education in specific fields or skills according to their abilities and the needs of the community. They may also assist during this period in the administration of the house, the program of studies, pastoral work and other duties.
When a temporarily professed religious is judged to have been trained sufficiently and to have developed a stable religious character, he can profess solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, thus becoming a permanent member of the Congregation.
For the religious destined for the priesthood, once he has reached the end of formation, his seminary training and has made solemn profession, he can then be ordained to the deaconate. After ordination to the deaconate he begins the special preparation for ordination to the priesthood. Once ordained to the priesthood he is then assigned to share in our apostolic work.